By Scott Linden
Yellowstone. The word strikes fear – and joy – in the hearts of RVers. Ya gotta go, but so does everyone else. Bear jams, busloads of foreign tourists, cheek-by-jowl campsites … if there are any at all! The bad news is the national park campgrounds are full to the brim all summer. The good news is, if you’re flexible, at least one nearby RV park has room for you if you move fast.
Yellowstone is America’s first, and foremost, national park. Geysers, wildlife, scenic wonders, fishing, hiking, history … the whole enchilada. Go ahead, make your pilgrimage and stretch a bit after a year of limited freedom. Plan ahead, be willing to change your calendar if needed, and enjoy a spectacular, bucket-list trip. Just leave the bears and bison alone.
Grizzly RV Park & Cabins
210 S. Electric St., West Yellowstone, MT 59758
Reservations: Click here. Phone: 406-646-4466
Okay, you won’t find a space during the highest of high season (July). But as of this writing there are sites in mid and late August, and late September. Once October arrives, things break wide open and rates plummet like my Bitcoin balance.
Adjacent to national forest and right in town, Grizzly RV Park & Cabins has seven types of sites, from dry camps to full hookups with 30-50 amp electric service, water, sewer, cable TV and Wi-Fi. Sites are spacious, have vegetation between them, with plenty of room for slide-outs and awnings. Premium pull-through sites can accommodate the largest RVs.
The park is four blocks from Yellowstone National Park’s west entrance gate, surrounded by all the comforts of home(town): shopping, fuel, restaurants. There’s a pavilion for large group gatherings, playground, six bath houses, 24-hour laundry, convenience store and gift shop.
(Examples are for 30-foot trailer, 2 adults.) Ranging from dry sites at $50/night, to $100/night for full hookups, depending on date and type of site. The park’s website will tell you they’re full, but search dates and you could score … I did on four different test reservations.
Yelp rating: 4 of 5 stars; Campendium rating: 4/5 stars. Four bars of cell phone signal for Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile. Wi-Fi is free, but some guests gripe about slow speeds.
This large park (more than 200 spaces) is a good taste of your upcoming Yellowstone visit with “ranger station” architecture, woodlands and wide-open spaces. A convenient base to explore the park, as close as you can get without battling the reservation crunch that comes with a national park.
Here’s a Google map.
Scott Linden hosts the RVTravel podcast, and can often be found hip-deep in a Yellowstone stream trying to figure out why the trout aren’t biting.
When we travelled west through Utah, Yellowstone, et al. we found many RV sites at nontraditional locations.
The best one was literally someone’s front yard! The small house was set back from the road and there were about a dozen sites in a loop. The former garage was the office and we even had a laundry room! Another “campground” consisted of 3 sites placed in the back parking lot of a small town motel. Yet another motel had cleared vegetation from the back of the property and put in some RV sites. One popular restaurant outside of a national park had some property across the highway that they turned into two lines of RV sites.
Few, if any, of these campgrounds were nationally advertised or listed on our GPS. None were resort-style sites — just park and hook up. But we always felt safe and only needed the good’s night sleep and shower that they offered.
Check Chambers of Commerce for the area, FB pages and small town web sites.
We have stayed near West Yellowstone many times and have looked at Grizzly RV Park more than once, but we never could afford it. During the summer they only have two RV rates, $75 or $100/night. There are no weekly or monthly rates. Grizzly was one of the first RV parks in this area to fully exploit the demand that there is for RV spots near a Yellowstone entrance. The sad fact is, that now any RV park within 20 miles of a Yellowstone entrance has adopted this same pricing structure. The lowest rate I found were a couple RV Parks that were 35 and 40 miles from an entrance. They kept a few RV sites that offered a monthly rate of $1400. I’m not worried about overcrowding but I am saddened that I can no longer afford to spend the summer near Yellowstone.